Dominic Cummings spotted wearing a suit as MPs return to Parliament after summer recess ends

Dominic Cummings ditched his usual T-shirt and jeans and made a rare appearance in a suit as ministers returned to Westminster this morning.

The Prime Minister’s most senior advisor was pictured in a black suit with a pink shirt as he headed for the cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were also pictured leaving Downing Street for the meeting which is to be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London.

The cabinet meeting is taking place in the Foreign Office because there is more space for all the cabinet ministers to socially distance than in Downing Street.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak leave Downing Street and head for a Cabinet meeting to be held at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Jeremy Selwyn)

Mr Cummings has reportedly told aides a “hard rain is coming” and has promised to shake-up an “incoherent” Cabinet Office as part of an overhaul of Whitehall culture, according to the Financial Times.

The Prime Minister is expected to urge his ministers to get Britain back to “more normality” during the meeting.

It comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was pictured flouting coronavirus restrictions by shaking hands with someone on his way to a socially distanced meeting of Boris Johnson’s top table.

Meanwhile Mr Johnson has come under fire for presiding over several U-turn decisions over the last few weeks, including on exam results and face coverings in schools.

After months of what one Tory MP called a “megadisaster from one day to the next”, many are now demanding reassurances from ministers as Parliament resumes.

Matt Hancock arrives in the Foreign Office Courtyard (Jeremy Selwyn)

A senior Conservative MP said that backbenchers were “tired of the U-turns”.

“There’s that element of calamity – and frankly there are people from the Red Wall seats who are getting jittery,” they said.

“But not only Red Wall seats, but other people who haven’t got marginal seats like that.

Priti Patel arrives for today’s Cabinet meeting (Jeremy Selwyn)

“We’d like to be in a Government that has the impression of being competent – rather than lurching from one issue to another and then after a short time doing a U-turn.”

The Government is also under pressure to ensure the reopening of schools in England this week goes without a hitch – and that the move does not push up coronavirus cases.

Around 40 per cent of schools welcomed back students for the start of autumn term today.

Conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee Robert Halfon said he wanted the Government and exam regulators to provide “absolute clarity” on syllabuses so teachers know what to teach – as well as reassurance for parents and teachers that it is safe to return.

He also said schools should run tests to assess pupils’ academic attainment, mental health and wellbeing, and send the results to the Department for Education and Ofqual to help determine when exams should take place next year.

“I’m not talking about nationwide exams – I think that’s the last thing we need – but just some basic understanding of what catch-up is needed… and to work out what delay is needed if (exams) need to be delayed,” he told PA.

Other challenges facing the Government this autumn including trying to strike a Brexit deal before the end of the transition period, the merger of the Foreign Office and Department for International Development, and the expected rise in unemployment when the furlough scheme ends.

Additional reporting by PA Media.


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